Ambassador to Belgium: Azerbaijan and EU need to build a perspective

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Baku, December 3, AZERTAC

Azerbaijan’s relations vis-à-vis Europe should concentrate on creating future perspectives and overcoming current challenges, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Belgium, Fuad Isgandarov, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Commenting on EU-Azerbaijan relations after the European Parliament`s September resolution on the country, Isgandarov said: “Azerbaijan expressed its clear and firm position on the future of EU-Azerbaijan relations even before the EP resolution, during the Riga Summit. We remain focused on the bilateral format of cooperation, where both parties can exercise equal partnership and accommodate mutually agreed priorities of cooperation.” Unfortunately, the post-Riga period registered some trends which repeated itself again in terms of negatively influencing our bilateral relations. We have always advocated for constructive dialogue, even with a critical content, (and) consistently encouraged the EU to abandon the language of unilateral statements and resolutions.” “Unfortunately, some EU institutions have transformed constructive dialogue into a lecturing monologue. But we are not students. That’s why the National Parliament of Azerbaijan decided to entirely suspend its cooperation with the European Parliament at its current status, and to withdraw from the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. Moreover, it also resulted in postponing the consultations on the draft Strategic Partnership Agreement upon the decision of the government of Azerbaijan,” the Ambassador said.

“We took note of the Joint Communication on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, which gives us a chance to identify the EU’s projections on its engagement with partner countries. We also took note of the EU’s desire to enter into bilateral discussions to find how the EU and Azerbaijan can work together in the future. Our vision on the revision of ENP strategy which we submitted during the consultations period will maintain its guiding role in elaboration of our stance in future bilateral negotiations.” “We all should clearly acknowledge that there are issues that cannot be a subject to compromise. Several countries of the Eastern Partnership are facing externally imposed armed conflicts and territorial claims that resulted in military occupation, ethnic cleansing, and forced population displacements. These conflicts are caused and accompanied by flagrant violations of human rights and fundamental norms and principles of international law, in particular those relating to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders,” he said. “Creating future perspectives and overcoming current challenges. First of all, as Ambassador, I am committed to strengthening relations between the EU and Azerbaijan, based on very strong, deep, future-oriented cooperation, based on real and irreversible economic ties, which should result in a strategic partnership. This is about perspectives.”

Isgandarov responded to a question about Armenia`s involvement in the negative campaign against Azerbaijan. “Armenia is also behind this campaign, but Armenia is not an independent country, at all. We feel an attempt of some forces to divert Azerbaijan from the European perspective. If Azerbaijan goes towards Europe, even if not so much politically, but mostly economically, this is seen as a serious threat by Armenia. Because they will be alone in this region. Turkey is a candidate country, Georgia is an associated member of the EU, Azerbaijan will be, I am sure, a strategic partner of the EU. What will be the value of Armenia for Europe in this situation?”

The Ambassador also highlighted Azerbaijan`s commitment to anti-terror war. “We demonstrate our full, real and clear support to antiterrorist activity of our Western partners. It is challenging for the young, secular but Muslim state, located in such complicated region of the world. But it is our choice. Friendship is not a “glass of water”, which could be half full or half empty depending on the situation. It should be always full of confidence and trust. That is our approach. We expect the same from our European partners.”

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